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Ur-Rahman v. Changchun Development

January 13, 1997

NAQUEB UR-RAHMAN, APPELLANT,
v.
CHANGCHUN DEVELOPMENT, LTD., A WASHINGTON CORPORATION, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from Superior Court of Snohomish County. Docket No: 94-2-01142-0. Date filed: 05/03/95. Judge signing: Hon. Joseph Thibodeau.

Authored by Ronald E. Cox. Concurring: H. Joseph Coleman, Faye C. Kennedy.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cox

COX, J. -- Changchun Development, Ltd., the successor in interest to the seller under a real estate contract, forfeited the interest of Naqueb Ur-Rahman, the purchaser under that contract. Shortly after the recording of the declaration of forfeiture, Rahman commenced this action to set aside the forfeiture. He claims that offsets he asserts satisfy the obligation under the real estate contract. The trial court granted Changchun's motion for summary judgment. Because the applicable statutes of limitations bar Rahman's claims, we affirm.

In July 1983, R.E.B. Enterprises, Inc., as seller, and Rahman, as purchaser, executed a real estate contract for the sale of a warehouse on a four-acre, partially developed property in Lake Stevens. The entire property was subject to an underlying deed of trust that secured a promissory note of R.E.B. held by Citizens Bank of Marysville.

The purchase price was $210,000, $90,000 of which Rahman paid at closing. He agreed to pay the deferred balance plus interest by a combination of periodic and balloon payments. All unpaid amounts were due and payable in July 1993.

In July 1990, Changchun acquired by successive assignments R.E.B.'s interest as seller in the real estate contract. Three months later, Changchun paid off the note secured by the underlying deed of trust to which the warehouse was subject.

Rahman claims he wrote a letter dated October 26, 1990, to a Mr. Dean Kalivas, whom Rahman characterizes as a neutral third party. In that letter, Rahman stated his understanding of the status of his obligation on the real estate contract. According to Rahman, the unpaid balance of the contract as of October 31, 1990, without considering any offsets, was $61,806.91. He also stated that he had three offsets that totaled over $176,000. Finally, he claimed that netting the offsets against the October 31, 1990, contract balance meant that he was owed over $114,000. But Rahman did not seek payment of the difference. He sought only a fulfillment deed. There is nothing in the record before us to show that either Changchun or any of its predecessors in interest in the contract agreed to this accounting by Rahman.

In August 1991, Rahman sent a letter to Changchun claiming he had paid the contract in full and demanding a fulfillment deed. Changchun's then counsel requested documentation that the contract was paid. But Rahman declined to provide any and threatened litigation.

On July 10, 1993, the real estate contract became due of its own terms. In October 1993, Rahman again wrote to Changchun, demanding a fulfillment deed. On November 9, 1993, Changchun notified Rahman that it would not issue a fulfillment deed in the absence of documentation that Rahman had made all required payments under the contract. The next day, Changchun commenced a proceeding under the real estate contract forfeiture act, RCW 61.30. In February 1994, Changchun completed the forfeiture proceeding by recording a declaration of forfeiture.

Shortly thereafter, Rahman commenced this action to set aside the forfeiture. The trial court granted Changchun's motion for summary judgment and denied Rahman's motion for reconsideration. The court also determined that Changchun was the prevailing party for purposes of an award of attorney fees and costs, but deferred further consideration of the award pending the outcome of this appeal by Rahman.

I

Time-Barred Offsets

Rahman concedes, as he must, that each of his three offset claims is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Rather, he argues that the trial court erred by concluding that these statutes bar his claims in this action to set aside the real estate contract forfeiture. Rahman's argument has no basis in law or logic, and we reject it.

When reviewing an order granting summary judgment, this court engages in the same inquiry as the trial court. *fn1 CR 56(c) permits the trial court to grant summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." "All facts and reasonable inferences are considered in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party . . . and all questions of law are reviewed de novo." *fn2 When Rahman commenced this action in 1994, it was the first time he sought adjudication of any of his three claimed offsets against the payments owed under the real estate contract. First, he claims that R.E.B. owes rent under an oral lease for $1,000 per month from 1983 to mid-1990. *fn3 Second, he asserts an offset for R.E.B.'s use of one wall of the warehouse as a common wall with another warehouse that was constructed in July 1984. He claims that the construction breached the terms ...


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